Desperate Americans Turn To Cost-Sharing Ministries, But There’s No Legal Guarantee Their Claims Will Be Covered
These Christian nonprofit groups offer far lower rates because they are not classified as insurance and are under no legal obligation to pay medical claims. But many of those who buy into them don’t fully realize that their claims don’t have to be met and are left facing sky-high medical bills alone. In other health care cost and insurance news: geographical disparities in prices and medical debt.
The New York Times: Christian Health Cost-Sharing Ministries Offer No GuaranteesEight-year-old Blake Collie was at the swimming pool when he got a frightening headache. His parents rushed him to the emergency room only to learn he had a brain aneurysm. Blake spent nearly two months in the hospital. His family did not have traditional health insurance. “We could not afford it,” said his father, Mark Collie, a freelance photographer in Washington, N.C. Instead, they pay about $530 a month through a Christian health care sharing organization to pay members’ medical bills. (Abelson, 1/2)
New Orleans Times-Picayune: As Health Insurance Costs Rise, Some Louisiana Residents Are Turning To Faith-Based Plans The ministries aren’t insurance even if they seem to work in a similar way. And the plans, which often require members to agree to live in alignment with Christian principles, often have a lot of limits — a yearly spending cap, limited to no coverage for preexisting conditions, and a denial of treatments seen as a violation of faith, such as a pregnancy for unmarried people. Still, their popularity has been growing. (Woodruff, 12/24)
Past KHN coverage: ‘Sham’ Sharing Ministries Test Faith Of Patients And Insurance RegulatorsThe New York Times: In The U.S., An Angioplasty Costs $32,000. Elsewhere? Maybe $6,400. Why does health care cost so much more in the United States than in other countries? As health economists love to say: “It’s the prices, stupid.” As politicians continue to lament the system’s expense, and more Americans struggle to pay the high and often unpredictable bills that can accompany their health problems, it’s worth looking at just how weird our prices really are relative to the rest of the world. (Sanger-Katz, 12/27)
Columbus Dispatch: Families Crippled By Medical Debt, Even After Comparison Shopping To Find Cheaper Treatment Shortly after Deb Genetin was diagnosed with colon cancer in November 2018, she was told she couldn’t have the surgery that eventually would end up saving her life — all because of costs. A medical technician at Mercy Health in Springfield walked into the room, right after a surgeon had explained what to expect in surgery, and said “financing isn’t in place,” Genetin said. …Genetin said she applied for financial aid through Mercy Health to help offset the costs of the surgery but received a rejection letter in the mail last Christmas Eve. (Henry, 12/31)
Kaiser Health News: ‘An Arm And A Leg’: Tradition Grows Into $1 Million Gift For People In Medical Debt Every year — for decades — the Buehler family and friends have organized a softball tournament in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area to raise money for someone with big medical expenses. “It’s like a holiday for us in the family,” Ed Buehler, 40, said. “You know, another one that just happens to come in July.” The tournament started in 1980 as a fundraiser for Ed’s dad, Denny Buehler, who was battling leukemia and needed to travel to Seattle for treatment. The tournament typically raises about $10,000 each year. (Weissman, 12/16)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription
Sign up for our Newsletter
Get the latest news about the health care industry straight to your inbox!